Small things matter.
In fact, in some industries the smallest of things are especially important. For chemists and engineers who are working in industries such as food production and pharmaceuticals understanding the exact content of the smallest of particles is essentials to guaranteeing customer and client satisfaction and safety.
Analyzing food products to measure for acceptable levels of everything from foreign matter to fat is the work of chemists and chemical engineers. Although it is never the goal to allow foreign matter into any of the food that we eat, by nature it happens. Through the use of laser diffraction testing and particle size analysis, chemists and chemical engineers can help test the safety of a variety of products. By studying the particle size distribution curve, for instance, a chemist can determine the content of a large product from one small sample.
Pharmaceutical industries also depend on information gathered from the analysis of particle size distribution curves determined by particle size distribution testing. Over the last two decades, a process called laser diffraction has, for the most part, replaced sieving and sedimentation, previously traditional methods of particle size analysis.
Even the most standard laser diffraction equipment can be used for particles in the size range from about 400 nm up to a few millimeters. The very newest equipment, however, can measure particles down to the lower nanometer range by combining laser diffraction with other techniques. These technologies provide measurements of scattering intensities in different directions.
Pharmacists, food companies, and many other industries rely on the very specific studies of particle size distribution curves to make sure that their products meet required safety standards. As a brief description, consider this explanation of the typical steps used in the particle size analysis process through the use of the sieving or laser diffraction methods:
- bulk powder sampling
- sub-sampling of bulk samples for specimen
- preparation or dispersion of specimens
- instrument set up and verification
- size measurements
- interpretation and analysis of data
- size result reports
As long as there are companies that will be mass producing food, medications, and other consumable products, there will be engineers and chemists who will focus on the smallest of particles in those products.